Today’s blog celebrates the Happy Birthday Anniversary of Michigan Man Bill Keating. Bill was born in Chicago, Illinois on this date in 1944. He followed his older brother, Tom, to Ann Arbor to play for Bump Elliott.
Bill was two years behind big brother Tom. Bill arrived on the Michigan campus in 1962 and Tom was already a junior. Having a brother on the varsity probably wasn’t a bad thing, but it did leave Bill with some big shoes to fill when Tom graduated in 1963. Tom Keating had a great spring practice season in 1963 and it carried over into the fall season. He was named as the Meyer Morton Award winner as the most improved player on the Michigan team. Tom Keating left Michigan as a two-year starter. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1963 Michigan football team. Tom also earned All-Conference honors in his senior year. He is one of the few players in Michigan football history to earn the Meyer Morton Award and the Most Player Award in the same calendar year.
So, Bill Keating spent the first two years of his career playing in the shadow of his talented brother. Bill could not play as a freshman because freshmen were not allowed to play in the sixties. He did not play much as a sophomore and was not awarded a letter at the end of the season. While Bill Keating was struggling to earn playing team, Michigan struggled to win their share of games. The Wolverines finished with an overall record of 3 wins, 4 losses and 2 ties. They finished fifth in the Big Ten Conference with a record of 2-3-2.
The 1964 season was much better for Bill Keating and the Wolverines. Michigan won the Big Ten Championship for the first time since 1950. The fourteen year “championship drought” was finally over. The Wolverines won 9 games, lost 1 and tied 0 that year. This win total included the Rose Bowl Championship which they earned with a dominating win (34-7) over Oregon State on January 1, 1965. Bill Keating started one game at right guard on that championship team and earned enough playing time to letter as well.
Bill’s senior season started out very well. Like his brother, he was named the Meyer Morton Award winner coming out of spring practice. It was the first, and still the only, time that brothers had been named winners of this coveted Michigan football award.
Michigan started the 1965 season with two straight wins and then the roof fell in. The Wolverines lost four straight conference games and finished with a record of 4 wins, 6 losses and 0 ties. The reigning Big Ten Champions dropped to a seventh-place finish at the end of the season. Bill Keating started two games at left guard for the Wolverines and earned his second letter at the end of his disappointing senior season.
After his Michigan career ended, Bill, again, followed his brother’s footsteps to the National Football League. After two years, he decided to attend law school and pursue a career in law. Sadly, Bill Keating died at the age of seventy on January 1, 2015. Today is a good day to remember the contributions of Bill Keating. He left Michigan as a two-year letterman, a Big Ten Champion and a Rose Bowl Champion as well. Thanks to Bill Keating for his dedication to Michigan football. May he always rest in peace! Go Blue!